Tuscany is all about delicate simplicity. Characterised by the immense waves of endless pea green vineyards, rows of fragrant cypress trees so tall that you feel they touch the sky, golden wheat fields, craggy medieval hilltop villages and a superb cucina povera- the cooking of the poor – Tuscany is all about rolling up your sleeves and enjoying the simple earthly pleasures in life.
Yes, this central part of Italy is by no means somewhere new, but as travel destinations come in and out of fashion, enjoying the constant ebb and flow of cultural phenomena, Tuscany remains absolute. It is a timeless destination, a travel utopia that seems to never go out of style.
To best appreciate Tuscany, you have to get back down to basics and one of the ways to do this is by staying in agriturismi– farm stays- which are rapidly gaining momentum among those who want to travel authentically. Dubbed as homestays, agriturismi provide guests with imitate, unpretentious and more importantly affordable dwellings, often paired with sprawling pastoral views.
For our time here, we had the immense pleasure of staying at Podere Bocci, a nearly 500-year-old Tuscan estate which we (rather delightfully) called home for the next few days and where, Italian literary writer and journalist Emma Perodi, chose as a countless setting for her stories. Approaching Podere Bocci feels like you are stumbling upon a traditional sanctuary. Planted in the middle of a wide-open dramatic landscape where you can enjoy the undulating rolling hills, Podere Bocci is deep in the countryside, secluded (in the best possible way) and offers you the possibility of channelling the character and charm of old Tuscany.
Designed with a traditional palette, the rooms are rustic and charming with big lofty ceilings, bare brick walls and good-sized bathrooms. There are two apartments each sleeping six people, and both can be rented separately or in exclusive use, taking it entirely as a villa. It is a self-catered property so there’s ample kitchen space in both apartments for you tuck in with friends and family and enjoy the collective experience of cooking together. But the real joy of this place is lounging outside, where you can embrace the remote and peaceful open space during the spring and summer months and enjoy long lazy lunches or supper with great company.
About a 30-minute drive from Arezzo, Podere Bocci is located in Poppi and you absolutely must have a car with you. Although one of the great things about this property is that in less than two hours you can reach the Tuscan classics like Florence and Siena, or for somewhere further afield Assisi or Spoleto in Umbria. But these places harbour too familiar a cultural reference point and we are interested in exploring the lesser known but equally enchanting nearby places. Tuscany gets extremely hot during the summer months, so we suggest planning your activities early or in the late afternoon when the sun isn’t so oppressive. Enjoy your middays by dipping in the pool and or reading a book under the shaded area.
The town of Poppi is about a 10-minute drive and great for an afternoon walk. The skyline is dominated by the overbearing Castello dei Conti Guidi which we come to learn housed the supreme poet Dante when exiled from Florence. It is said that he composed canto XXXIII of Inferno within these very walls. Then there’s the delightful nearby village of Stia, a 15- minute drive away and is surrounding by the perfect scenery for those who love nature, mountains, hiking and where you can find countless churches, a nearby convent La Verna which Francesco d’Assisi became a custodian and the Parco Nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona e Campigna. Stretching between Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna, the park is one of Europe’s densely forested areas grazed with wild animals (you might get a glimpse of a deer) and a soul stirring oasis of green.
In short, Podere Bocci just doesn’t have a bad side. Staying here is all about enjoying the Tuscan pace of life, about the importance of connecting with nature where the landscape lifts the heart of a spirited traveller and more importantly, about slowing down and appreciating the smaller things in life.
Podere Bocci is open from January – October and in 2022 will be open all year round. Prices start from €180 a night with a minimum stay of five nights. Maximum number of guests is 12 for the villa in exclusive use.
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